Confessions of a Former Homeschool Mom
Cooking and Chemistry go together
Homeschooling is still a bit controversial today but was really frowned on it when I pulled my 4 children out of public school. I had a lot of reasons. One of my children was not learning but being passed onto the next grade year after year. By the fifth grade she still could not read beyond a first grade level. The oldest girl and my son were being bullied at school and the teachers and principal were doing nothing about it. The middle girl was acting up and her teacher was having trouble interacting with her. All these reasons and more made me want to find another solution for my children’s education but I didn’t really want to homeschool. I knew that was going to be a lot of work on me and I wasn’t even sure I LIKED my children that much. They would come home from public school each day and immediately begin fighting and snipping at each other. I felt like a referee more than a mother.
Creation of a paper mache whale.
Why I Loved it.
We couldn’t really afford private school but I didn’t want to be responsible for their education myself. After a prayerful summer wondering what I was going to do that fall, I was left with only one option beyond public school: homeschool. I remember telling my husband that I would give it a try for one year and if I didn’t like it, back to public school they were going to go. Little did I know that I would LOVE it. Here is what I learned:
1. They are cute.
Who knew they were actually cute when they were studious. I LOVED seeing the light go on in their eyes when they “got it”. It was more exciting for me than I ever would have imagined.
2. They get along better.
They began getting along better almost immediately. We took a break in the mornings and they would pair off, challenging each other to a game of chess. I thought for sure the body snatchers had arrived and substituted my children for these wonderful people. I just hoped the mother ship wasn’t returning anytime soon.
3. Correcting wrongs.
I was able to find deficiencies in their education that I was totally unaware of before. Not once in any parent-teacher conferences did they clue me in that my oldest daughter was 2 years behind in math. And I did see that the youngest was a little behind in reading but I wasn’t aware of how far behind she actually was.
4. No getting away with skating.
I noticed that sometimes they would try to get away with doing the least amount possible. In creative writing, my son would write a couple of lines and turn it in. I told him I knew he could do better because I’d seen him do better before. He said they accepted it in public school… and that’s when the lights came on for me. They were trying to slide by because they could… but with me they couldn’t because I knew them better. I really like that I was able to squeeze the best out of them. Side Note: that same son has now written several fantasy books for teen boys. Would he have if I hadn’t insisted he give me his best?
Chemistry in the Kitchen
5. Learning styles.
I was able to gear the school for each of the children’s best learning style. My son wasn’t able to spell well when I had spelling tests written, but when we had oral spelling bees he excelled. He learned best by hearing. My oldest learned best by seeing and reading, while the youngest was constantly out of her seat and roaming around. She learned best when we got up and did “hands-on” things. She loved science experiments and dissecting specimens.
Would you consider homeschool for your children?
6. Colleges like homeschool students.
When the time came to apply to college, I made some phone calls. I was concerned that my children would be penalized for being homeschooled. What I found out was a revelation. I was told that many colleges and universities prefer homeschooled students because they know how to study and are usually serious about their education; as opposed to public school students who tend to be party animals, going a little wild when finally getting away from Mom and Dad.
7. Learning experiences everywhere.
I found learning experiences everywhere. In the car on the way to appointments, we played alphabet and vocabulary games. In the grocery store I had each of the children calculate what would be cheapest according to volume and often found surprising results. They would scour the isles with calculators in hand finding what we needed for the best price. To practice fraction skills, we would often go to the kitchen and each make ½ or ¼ of a recipe of cookies. They had to figure out what ¼ of 2 ½ cups of flour might be. We watched growing things each spring and even did some experiments with decomposition. We buried paper, cardboard, cloth scraps and Styrofoam to see how fast and what would decompose first. The results were much more interesting than reading about them in some book.
Really cute people
8. Wonderful people.
I found that I bonded with each of them in a way that would not have been possible before. I learned more about them, their likes, dislikes and dreams than I imagined possible. Instead of it being a strain, it was a bonding experience. They are wonderful people.
We had some friends and even family members tell our girls they were being denied socialization by being MADE to stay home. They were talked to as if they were being deprived of something. That was hurtful to me and my children. Later they realized their mistake and apologized.
Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. You do have to be dedicated to keeping on track as much as possible and studying to keep ahead of the students. I found that the biggest challenge. My kids learned things so quickly that it was a struggle to keep one page or one lesson ahead so I knew what was coming up. If you aren’t dedicated; if you think this will be easy, you are deluding yourself and maybe you shouldn’t consider homeschool.
Horseback riding and babysitting
So worth the effort.
If you are considering homeschooling or are looking for reinforcements to keep going here are a few things to remember. There will be battles. There will be people who don’t understand and judge you. There may even be people who put thoughts into their ears of how abused and oppressed your children are. Sometimes even family members are unsupportive. But they don’t know how important this is. Protecting them from the abusive, corrosive influences of peers on the playground is more important that any lost socialization. Keeping them pure from the ideas and vulgar talk that goes on at some campuses is key to me.
When things became hard and stressful, I only needed to remind myself that this too will pass. It was only for a season and now they are all grown and raising families of their own. Interestingly they are each homeschooling their children as well. I guess it couldn’t have been the oppressive, controlling environment that the critics say it is if each of them want the same for their children.